Authorities say they rescued 106 hostages after al-Shabab militants blasted their way into the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu. The building was recaptured after a 30-hour siege.
Somalis waited anxiously to learn the fate of their loved ones on Sunday after a 30-hour-long hotel siege in Mogadishu drew to a close.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens more have been wounded since Friday when terrorist group al-Shabab stormed the Hayat Hotel — a popular hangout among lawmakers and government officials in the Somali capital. Authorities say 106 hostages were rescued during the siege that followed.
“During the attack, the security forces rescued many civilians trapped in the hotel, including women and children,” police commissioner Abdi Hassan Hijar said on Sunday morning.
Ismail Abdi, the hotel’s manager, told the Associated Press that although the siege was over, security forces were still working to clear the area.
Loved ones wait for answers
Businessman Muktar Adan, whose brother was inside the hotel when the attack started, queued outside the destroyed hotel on Sunday morning as the streets fell calm.
“My brother was inside the hotel the last time we heard from him, but his phone is switched off now and we don’t know what to expect,” he told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Another local who heard the attack unfold as bullets and flames ripped through the hotel said he was very worried about his friend who was a guest at the property.
“I hope… [he] is alive,” Said Nurow told AFP. “He stayed in the hotel according to the last information we got from his sister.”
Al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, has been fighting the Somali government for more than a decade. The terrorist group seeks to implement a strict interpretation of Sharia law, and is an affiliate of al-Qaida.
The Hayat Hotel attack is the first major terror incident in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took over in May.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and said in a statement that he supported the people of Somalia “in their fight against terrorism and their march towards peace.”
zc/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)